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Latinos and Seattle's Civil Rights History

This page is a gateway to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project resources for exploring the civil rights activism of Latinas/Latinos in the Pacific Northwest. Included are activist oral histories, research reports, newspaper reports, photographic collections, maps, historical documents.

Slide Show: Raza Si! Chicano Activism in Washington State, 1965-today a powerpoint slide show introduces the history of the Chicano Movement. Includes video interview excerpts.

Special Sections

Activist Oral Histories Click to learn more about these activists and watch video excerpts of their oral history interviews.

Acevez, Pedro

Born in Wapato, Washington, Pedro Acevez was part of the first contingent of Chicano students to enroll at the University of Washington. He served as President of MEChA de UW and helped organize farm workers in the Yakima Valley as part of a United Farm Workers campaign in the early 1970s.

Aguayo, Emilio

An artist and one of the first Chicano muralists in Washington State, Aguayo attended UW in the late 1960s and was active in both the Chicano and farm workers movements. His murals, including several at the University, remain key symbols of the Chicano movement that transformed the state and the university.

Alaniz, Yolanda (Abeyta)

The daughter of farm workers, Yolanda Alaniz was active in MEChA, the Brown Berets, the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, in addition to writing for the UW _Daily_ on Chicana issues. She now works as an archivist, preserving Chicano/a history.

Aragon, Teresa

Theresa Aragon came to Seattle in 1968 to complete her PhD at UW. She soon became involved in efforts to create a Chicano Studies program, serving as interim director of that program in 1971. Off campus she served on Governor's Advisory Committee on Mexican American Affairs.

Bocanegra, Juan Jose

Born in Mexico, raised in Texas, Juan Bocanegra moved to Seattle in 1971 to earn a graduate degree at UW. He quickly became active in the Chicano movement on campus and in the community, including the establishment of El Centro de la Raza. He also participated in the American Indian Movement struggles.

Gallegos, Sidney

Sydney Gallegos was born into a farming family in northern New Mexico. In 1969, Gallegos came to Seattle to attend UW. One of the founders of MEChA, he was also active in El Teatro del Pioja, a guerrilla theater group. After earning his degree in dentristy, Dr. Gallegos helped found the Seattle chapter of the National Chicano Health Organization.

Gamboa, Erasmo

As a student at the University of Washington in the late 1960s and early 1970s Erasmo Gamboa was a founding member of MEChA, organized the grape boycott in support of farm workers, and was instrumental in establishing the Chicano Studies Program. He later earned his Ph.D and now teaches American Ethnic Studies and U.S. History at UW.

Gamboa, Guadalupe

Guadalupe Gamboa is one of the founders of the United Farm Workers of Washington state. He grew up in the Yakima Valley and has been active in farm worker organizing since the 1960s. A graduate of UW law school, he was also one of the founders of MEChA at UW.

Guillen, Rosalinda

Rosalinda Guillen helped lead the United Farm Workers campaign that resulted in a contract with Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in 1995. A native of Skagit County, she worked in the fields when she was young, then built a successful career as a bank officer. She gave that up to devote herself to farm worker organizing.

Gossett, Larry

Larry Gossett grew up in Seattle's Central District and attended the University of Washington where he co-founded the Black Student Union and helped lead various protests in the late 1960s, including work with Chicano students and the UFW. After serving as Executive Director at CAMP, he was elected to the King County Council, where he now represents the 2nd District.

Gutierrez Kenney, Phyllis

Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney was one of the first Latinas to hold an elected state office. She served in the legislature from 1997 to 2013. She’s been an advocate for farmworkers and instrumental in passing legislation to assist both Latino and undocumented students to pursue a higher education and training programs for English language learners.

Maestas, Roberto

Co-founder of El Centro de la Raza, Roberto Maestas first became involved in Chicano/ Latino activism in the late 1960s as a teacher at Franklin High School. He helped organize farm workers in the Yakima valley and students at UW and South Seattle Community College before becoming El Centro's Executive Director.

Martinez, Frank and Blanca

Frank Martinez and Blanca Estella met at the UW during the 1970s. Active in MEChA and the farm workers movement, they were also principle actors and organizers of Teatro del Piojo, the activist Chicano theater troup that performed throughout the Pacific Northwest during the 1970s.

Martinez, Ricardo

Judge Martinez grew up in Lynden, WA when his family moved there from Texas. Attending UW in the early 1970s, he was active in MEChA. After earning a law degree, he became a King County deputy prosecutor, a Superior Court judge, and since 2004, a U.S. District Court Judge.

Riojas, Rogelio

Born in Texas and raised in Eastern Washington, Riojas enrolled at UW in 1969 and became a leader of the Chicano movement, active in both MEChA and the Brown Berets. Later earning a degree in Health Administration, he has been the director of the Sea Mar Community Health Centers for the past 28 years.

Rodriguez, Jesus

Jesus Rodriquez was a Chicano movement student leader at Texas Western University (now UTEP) before joining the UW's Chicano Studies program as a graduate student. A student-activist, Rodriquez was an active member of MEChA, the Brown Berets, a co-founder of SeaMar Community Health Centers.

Rosales, Oscar

Oscar Rosales was involved with UW MEChA, El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social and the May 1st Action Coalition during the 2006 immigrant rights movement. Rosales continues to be an organizer for immigration reform and workers’ rights issues in Seattle.

Saldaña, Rebecca

Raised in Seattle, Rebecca Saldana is an activist and labor organizer. Involved in farmworker solidarity efforts with PCUN and the United Farmworkers, she worked on Fair Trade Apples campaign. Currently she organizes janitors with SEIU Local 6 and is a board member of STITCH.

Research Reports

A History of Farm Labor Organizing 1890-2009 by Oscar Rosales Castañeda, Maria Quintana, James Gregory

Long before the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) began organizing in the 1960s, farm workers had been contesting the unique challenges of working in the fields. This report–in ten brief chapters–examines the long history of farm workers in Washington State, focusing on their labor and political activism.

The Chicano Movement in Washington State 1967-2006 by Oscar Rosales Castañeda

This two-part essay traces the history of Chicano political and cultural activism in Washington State. The movement emerged in two locales: in the Yakima Valley, home to most of the state’s Latinos, and in Seattle where Chicano students launched many new initiatives. Reflecting the split geography, the movement linked together campaigns to organize and support farmworkers with projects that served urban communities and educational agendas.

La Raza Comes to Campus: The new Chicano contingent and the grape boycott at the University of Washington, 1968-69 by Jeremy Simer

Chicano students at the UW mobilized for the first time in the fall of 1968. They formed the United Mexican American Students (UMAS), which joined and soon led a campaign in solidarity with one of the Chicano Movement’s central activities: the boycott of California table grapes in support of the United Farm Worker Organizing Committee (UFWOC), which had been on strike since 1965. The successful boycott made the UW the first campus in the United States to stop selling grapes and turned a small group of Chicano students into a force to be reckoned with.

Immigrant Rights Protests in Washington State, Spring 2006 by Katherine Cavanaugh

In hundreds of cities and towns, immigrant workers, Latinx students and other Americans took to the streets in the Spring of 2006 to protest a draconian immigration restriction bill that had passed the House of Representatives. This essay analyzes why this massive protest movement arose by taking a closer look at the movement in Washington State, detailing the role of grassroots organizing both in Seattle and in rural areas of the state where high school students sometimes took the lead, staging school walkouts and marches in communities that had never before seen similar mobilizations.

Photo Collections

Document collections